Thrifting can be overwhelming if you're not quite sure what to expect. I'm unable to pinpoint exactly when my love for thrifting began, but finding affordable vintage pieces is something I've come to really enjoy! My first ever thrift store experience happened during the summer before I started University. I was looking for purple coloured stockings for frosh week, when I stumbled upon a vintage Western sweater sitting on a rack at Value Village. I swear, on that day, the universe was speaking to me. I bought said sweater, and wore it through every stressful exam period of my undergraduate career.
There is something so magical about adding pieces to your wardrobe that have come from all walks of life. I'm hoping that with these 10 helpful tips more people will go out and give thrifting a try. There is no greater feeling than adding to your wardrobe without breaking the bank.
1. HAVE ZERO EXPECTATIONS.
Having expectations before a thrifting experience is similar to going to the mall and coming back empty handed after having a long list of things you were hoping to find. When thrifting, never expect something specific to be waiting for you. Thrifting requires you to sort through clothes with an open mind. It can be quite overwhelming with all the clothes staring right at you, so having the motivation to go through racks of clothes is important. If you're feeling disheartened about not finding that specific something you came to look for, you'll end up overlooking everything else in the store. It takes a lot of patience and commitment to swift through clothing, and you won't be able to do so if you feel like giving up even before you've started. Go in without any expectations, and you won't be disappointed when you come out with nothing. Plus, if you end up finding something you love, it'll be a sweet bonus you never saw coming!
2. IF YOU'RE NOT REALLY SURE ABOUT SOMETHING, TRY IT ON.
This seems like a no brainer, yet most of us don't really follow through with this one. I'm always guilty of predetermining how an outfit will look on me before even trying it on. I've been working on changing this habit of mine, and it's been working in my favour. I wasn't going to get this skirt, because quite honestly I didn't know whether or not I'd actually wear it. I mean, what even is the print? Is it a map? Are those compasses? The skirt is filled with a cluster of odd pattern, but I couldn't seem to leave it behind after I had tried it on. I knew I had the perfect red crop top to go with it too. If you find something that catches your eye, but you're not really sure how you feel about it, try it on anyway! I can't tell you how many times I have stumbled upon something that looked totally different on me as opposed to when it was on the rack. I use to buy things without trying it on because I was just too lazy to change. What a horrible habit.
3. CHECK ALL THE RACKS, EVEN THE ONES THAT ARE NOT SPECIFIC TO YOUR 'SIZE'.
Sizing is something I don't bother paying too much attention to while thrifting. Since the clothes are second hand, sometimes the "sizing" of clothes aren't always true to what the tag says. Over-sized sweaters and cardigans are my usual favourite thrift store finds, which I ALWAYS find in the 'men's' section.
It's also nice to look in all the racks because you can always pick something up for someone else who appreciates thrifting just like you. I came across a Pantagonia jacket from the 90s a while back, and gave it to my brother. He is currently rocking it at Burning Man. If you know your friend has been looking for a pair of shiny gold tights for an upcoming music festival, and you happen to come across one, buy it! Ain't nobody paying $90 dollars for a similar pair from American Apparel. Nah b. Your friend will thank you for it.
4. EAT BEFORE YOU THRIFT.
This one is pretty self explanatory. No one wants to swift through racks and racks of clothes with a case of the hangries.
5. IT'S OKAY NOT TO BUY ANYTHING.
Don't feel obligated to buy something just because you're out thrifting. If you don't like anything, you don't like anything. There's no point convincing yourself to buy something if it's just going to sit in the back of your closet until you get around to chucking it during your next spring cleaning.
6. TRY NEW LOCATIONS.
You can find thrift stores literally everywhere. Some of my favourite thirft stores have been ones I have stumbled upon randomly in different parts of the Greater Toronto Area. There are quite a few Value Village locations, so you'll definitely be able to find one close to home. Kensington Market is also a great place to thrift if you're a fellow Torontonian like me. I've always managed to find an ugly Christmas sweater whenever I'm there. Just google 'thrift stores near me' and you're bound to find a whole lot near you.
7. IF IT'S CHEAP ENOUGH, YOU CAN ALWAYS AFFORD TO DO SOME ALTERATIONS.
Sometimes you'll find a piece that just doesn't fit the way it should. You know you should probably put it back but you just don't have the heart to do so. Is it cheap enough? If so, you can always make some alterations on it. I may be a little biased on this one, because I force momma Shanthi to do all my alterations for me. But hey, if you know someone who can make some minor adjustments for you, why not?!
This yellow floral skirt ($4) that V is wearing was actually a little too long. We were in a rush so we didn't even bother stitching the bottom. We folded the bottom of the skirt and popped a few safety pins in and were ready to go.
8. TAKE A FRIEND WHO ENJOYS THRIFTING JUST AS MUCH AS YOU DO!
Unlike shopping at a mall, thrifting requires you to swift through clothes in one location so there's no need to worry about going into specific stores that your friends may have no interest in going to. I say this because I love shopping alone when I'm at the mall, but couldn't imagine thrifting on my own. Thrifting with a friend is so much more fun because there is another set of eyes looking for cool finds with you. Oh, and if you try on something and it doesn't work you can always hand it over to your friend. This button up collar dress was initially a piece I came across, but it didn't fit right. I told Vee to try it on, and voila!
9. YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A FREQUENT THRIFTER.
You don't have to be a frequent thrifter. In fact, I probably wouldn't recommend it. It's easy to get carried away at a thrift store, especially when clothes are so cheap. Select times of the year like Halloween and Christmas are great times to venture into the thrifting world. I've noticed that thrift stores (like retail stores) start putting out holiday related items on their racks quite early. If you want an ugly Christmas sweater, I'd probably start looking in November. I've also noticed that select thrift stores bump up their prices on Christmas sweaters the closer it gets to the holiday season. So, if you come across one now, buy it!
10. REMEMBER, YOU ARE GETTING THESE CLOTHES SECOND HAND.
Like I said earlier, it's easy to get carried away at a thrift store when everything is so cheap. But, it's important to remember that the clothes you're looking at are second hand. A $30 Zara dress from last year's catalogue is NOT a steal. I always try to stay away from items I could buy at a mall. The beauty of thrifting is how random the clothing is. Have fun with it.
[Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I just really love thrifting. I hope those of you who have been unsure about thrifting have been motivated to give it a chance. For those of you who do thrift, are there any locations you recommend I check out in the Greater Toronto Area? Please let me know in the comments below. I will be sharing more pictures from this shoot very soon, where these Summer thrift store finds will be layered up to help show us how easy it can be to transition into the Fall season. All thrift store items were purchased by us.]
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A 24 year old Canadian living (& teaching) in Shenzhen, China.